After more than a month of waiting for spring training to begin, the Angels on Monday scrambled to pack their bags and their cars and get to Mesa, Ariz., in time for today's workout at 9 a.m.
"You kind of get complacent after all that time, and it looked like it was going to last for a while," said pitcher Jim Abbott, who spent the first day after the lockout running errands and gathering his gear for the drive to Mesa. "The settlement came so suddenly and (the first workout) came so fast. I'm excited to get started again. This is the time of year you start to get baseball fever."
Although most Angel players spend the off-season in Southern California and were quickly notified, others were harder to track down. Chuck Finley had gone home to Louisiana, Rich Monteleone was contacted in Florida and Tony Armas was in Venezuela. Still, every player had been found by late Monday morning.
Club officials had less success finding hotel rooms in Mesa and players will be scattered at several hotels, rather than settling into one headquarters hotel.
Most of the players' equipment was sent to Mesa at the end of last season, and the rest was packed and trucked to Arizona Monday night.
Getting the players there wasn't as simple. Keeping the vagaries of airline travel in mind, General Manager Mike Port said he would not discipline any players who did not arrive in time for today's workout.
"We'd certainly like them there before Wednesday, though," Port said. "But I think most of them will be there, judging from the response we got when we were calling our fellows when word came out (Sunday) night. Some apparently were on their way over, if not already on station in Mesa (Monday)."
The Angels' initial plan is to work out in Mesa through Sunday and then shift to Palm Springs, where they will pick up their exhibition schedule at Angels Stadium next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and possibly Thursday.
They have seven open dates--which are likely to be filled as soon as arrangements can be worked out--until they face the Dodgers in the annual Freeway Series, probably on April 6, 7 and 8, a week later than originally scheduled. Two of the games will be at Dodger Stadium, the other at Anaheim Stadium, although the order has not yet been determined. Tickets are available through each team's box office.
Tickets for the Angels' regular-season games went on sale Monday at Anaheim Stadium and at Teletron and Ticketron outlets.
Port said the entire preseason schedule would be more certain today, once revisions are completed and approved by the New York offices of major league baseball.
The Angels' April 9 home opener against the Seattle Mariners will now be their season opener. The six games that were wiped off their schedule, three at Seattle and three at Oakland, could be made up in doubleheaders later in the season or in an extra week tacked on to the end of the current schedule.
Port, who plans to leave for Mesa today, said he does not anticipate that the shortening of spring training will give players an insufficient time to prepare for the season and result in an inordinate number of injuries to players.
"The pitchers were working out regularly Monday, Wednesday and Friday at (Anaheim) Stadium, at least until Feb. 15," he said. "I respect all the players' professionalism and I think I'm very safe in saying they've all been working out to the best of their ability in the interim.
"I have no concerns that someone will report out of shape. . . . This is the first time in I don't know how long that we didn't have anyone rehabilitating himself from a serious injury or surgery. I think we're going to be in good shape figuratively and literally."
Players said, too, that they were happy to finally be going to spring training.
"My wife was ready to kick me out of the house a month ago," Bert Blyleven said. "It's been very hard. Our livelihood is baseball and we couldn't devote ourselves to that. I'm happy it's over."
Catcher Lance Parrish said: "It was kind of an emotional roller coaster. You're pumped up for the beginning of the season, then all of a sudden there's no spring training, then you get your hopes up because you hear things that indicate it might end, then you get the rug pulled out from under you. . . . I just hope the fans haven't put baseball out of their minds."
Wally Joyner can't get the lockout out of his mind.
"It looks like we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish," he said. "It was kind of frustrating. I'm just happy to be able to put on a uniform and take ground balls and get ready for the season. . . . It was kind of like arbitration. You don't want to go through it, but you're glad you did."